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Campus Spotlight: Reinstalling Hope

At Baghbhairab Secondary School in Nepal, a 10th-grade boy named Shree Mager is studying hard to obtain his School Leaving Certificate. Within him billows a passion for learning and a dream of receiving a higher education. However, Shree, the son of a deaf milk factory worker and an illiterate mother, was very close to giving up his dream due to his family’s financial circumstances. Today Shree continues to go to school with the help of Reinstalling Hope.

Maher (left) and Manjul (right) are pictured with students

Reinstalling Hope is a Non-Profit organization started by two Kenyon students: Maher Latif ‘17, and Manjul Bhusal Sharma ‘16. In the Fall of 2013, Maher and Manjul took an Economics class that sparked their interest in economic development in impoverished countries.  Manjul, an international student from Nepal, reflected on his life back home. He was raised in the capital city called Kathmandu and studied at private schools that gave him the tools and opportunities to get ahead. On the other hand, children who are born to poor, rural families and attend public schools end up working at their family’s farm, not studying at Kenyon College.

One of the single biggest hurdles Nepali students have to face is the SLC test. SLC stands for School Leaving Certificate; it’s basically their equivalent of an SAT. Without passing this test, students can’t move past 10th grade. On average, less than 30% of public school students pass, compared to over 90% of private school children.  Also, more males pass the SLC test than females.

There are many factors to this that we should keep in mind:

  • Public school students often come from poor families who don’t have the means to support their children’s continued education

  • Most families choose to support their son’s education over their daughter’s. For example, Asmita’s family could only afford to send one of their two children to private school, so the 17 year-old girl attends public school while her 16 year-old brother attends private school.

  • Public schools are government funded, but the government doesn’t give enough funds to compete with private school education

  • Public school teachers don’t get paid well; therefore, they are not well trained and lack motivation

  • Public schools don’t get enough (if any) SLC prep books

  • Public schools don’t get enough school supplies

  • Public schools can’t afford extracurricular activities, which creates a dry learning environment

After researching education in developing countries, Reinstalling Hope created a holistic model to improve Nepalese public schools. Its goals are to increase student attendance and participation, strengthen student engagement and excitement, and provide a quality education.  They would accomplish this by:

  1. Giving financial aid to students’ families

  2. Opening a dialogue with the families about the long-term benefits of sending their children to school, especially their daughters

  3. Giving an equal amount of scholarships to male and female students

  4. Establishing teacher training programs and assessments tests

  5. Providing financial aid to teachers

  6. Building extracurricular facilities like soccer fields and volleyball courts

  7. Providing school supplies from uniforms to SLC textbooks to computers

  8. Incorporating volunteers, both local and foreign, to teach English, set up extracurricular activities and build libraries

In the summer of 2014, Reinstalling Hope went on their first trip to Nepal. Majul and Maher worked closely with two schools in Kathmandu to implement their model. Even though the schools were eager to accept their help, the duo did not want to force change or take complete control. Instead, they worked side-by-side with the families, the schools, and the community. Their initiative was clearly effective, as the students did significantly better on their 2014 SLC test.

Success, however, can’t alway be measured quantifiably like a test score. For Majul and Maher, success is found in the little things, like giving Prabish Panta his first pair of school shoes, providing Sameer Thapa a safe space to practice his soccer skills, and seeing their optional English workshop class packed with eager students even though it meant the young scholars had to arrive to school 1.5 hours earlier than usual.

For their 2014 trip, they raised more than $3,000 in four weeks, but for this year’s trip, they set a goal of $15,000. Accompanying them this year is Aldis Petrikes ‘17, who joined Reinstalling Hope in 2015. None of the money will cover their traveling or living expenses. 100% of the proceeds will go to benefiting Nepalese students through Reinstalling Hope. Currently, they’ve raised an impressive $8,000, but as summer nears, they’re hoping sprint down the finish line by organizing benefits, working with Alumni, and spreading their story to the Kenyon community.

It’s easy to forget the invisible forces that led all of us to Kenyon. If it just took hard work and determination, Shree Majer would be walking down Middle Path in just a few years. However, without the financial support, environment and opportunities provided by Reinstalling Hope, the dream of higher education would simply stay a dream for Shree and the hundreds of marginalized kids the organization is committed to serving. Please consider showing your own commitment to higher education and equal opportunity by giving a gift today.

Image Credit: Reinstalling Hope

I'm a first-year at Kenyon College. I was raised in Staten Island, New York. I'm a Scorpio. I'm a delicate balance between introvert and extrovert. I'm into Environmental Science and Politics. I'm super excited to be part of Kenyon's Her Campus team. Go Ladies!
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